The Cooperative Research Centres Association is a not-for-profit organisation operating to promote the pursuit of science, particularly through the Australian Government’s CRC Program.

You don’t have to be a CRC to join, find out more about our types of membership and benefits of joining the association.

One bright idea that could transform innovation in Australia

by Dr Tony Peacock. Originally published on the Conversation.

When it comes to fostering innovation and the commercialisation of world class research, there is something the United States has that we lack. We ought to learn from the successes of the US in this area, and emulate one program they have pioneered to give our own innovative industries a much needed kick start.

For dozens of Australian researchers returning to the country after working in the US, the lack of an equivalent to the US’s Small Business Innovation Research SBIR scheme here reflects a major hole in our innovation ecosystem.

Charles Wessner, Professor at Georgetown University and director of the Global Innovation Policy unit, says the SBIR scheme triggered a fundamental shift in attitudes in American universities when it was introduced in 1982.

According to Wessner, before SBIR, the Dean of a faculty would ask young academics how many publications were going to come out of their latest piece of research.

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Australia 2040 Forum

This year’s annual CRC Association conference, themed the Australia 2040 Forum, was a resounding success. We had almost 400 people attend the CRC Showcase and Excellence in Innovation Awards Dinner, 250 people attend the forum and around 40 politicians, ambassadors and high commissioners – including the Prime Minister of Australia – attend at various points during the three days.

A thought provoking Ralph Slatyer Address on Science and Society was delivered by Dr Megan Clark AC and our Early Career Researchers all gave great presentations.

Thank you to those who filled out the conference survey. Your input will go a long way to ensuring next year’s conference is another success.

Presentations from the conference can be found here.

In 2016, we will be bringing forward the CRC Association’s annual conference and staging it to coincide with the World Science Festival in Brisbane. Please reserve 7, 8 and 9 March to be in Brisbane for a unique event that will be concentrating on the interface of business and science. Sponsorship and program inquiries and suggestions are welcome and can be directed to admin@crca.asn.au

More photos from the event have now been uploaded. You can view and download the photos here.

Minister accepts Miles

The Miles Review of the CRC Program has been handed down, with the Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane, accepting all 18 recommendations. A new CRC Advisory Group is already in place and working towards revised guidelines for CRCs and the newly proposed CRC Projects, or CRC-Ps. A new funding round is likely to commence before Christmas, or shortly afterwards.

David Miles’ review – Growth through innovation and collaboration – can be found here, and some reaction here and here. The CRC Association’s reaction is published here.

In summary, the CRC Program will become more intensely commercially focused and more aligned with the new Industry Growth Centres. In his speech to the CRC Conference in Canberra last week, Minister Macfarlane pointed out that although CRCs will be aligned with Growth Centres, they will not be confined to only the areas where a Growth Centre operates. The application procedure for CRCs is expected to be streamlined and all CRCs will now be companies limited by guarantee.

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CRCs cut again in Federal Budget

The future of the Cooperative Research Centres Programme will become clear in the next week. Despite yet another funding cut in the Federal Budget last week, it is expected that the programme will continue. The 2014-2015 Review of the CRC Programme by David Miles AM is expected to be released this week, or at the latest by early next week.

Minister Ian Macfarlane will give the Opening Keynote Address at the Australia 2040 Forum in Parliament House next Tuesday 26 May. The Minister is expected to give his views on the future directions for Cooperative Research Centres. Several outstanding CRC proposals are likely to be made clear in the Minister’s speech.

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Exploring collaboration opportunities with Japan

The CRC Association will participate in a small workshop exploring Japan-Australia collaborative research opportunities. The workshop in the Australian Embassy in Tokyo on May 13 will bring together a number of programmes from Australia and Japan. Both countries have a common interest in better forms of collaboration between industry and publicly-funded research organisations, as well as increased international links. Dr Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association, will speak on the CRC programme.

Dr Peacock will also be exploring the topic of industry-university research partnerships during June/July this year when he undertakes a Monash University Churchill Fellowship. He will look at a range of programmes in the USA, Germany, the UK and Singapore.

CRC review now with Minister

David Miles’ Review of the Cooperative Research Centres Programme is with the Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane, but the timing of a response is not known.

Fears about the future of the programme seem to have disappeared. During review consultations, Mr Miles had repeatedly said that the CRC Programme was “not under threat, it is under review”. However, the curtailing of the 17th funding round, an $80 million budget hit and reporting of some comments made by Minister Macfarlane had amplified concerns about with the viability of future funding rounds.

“We don’t know the timing of the release of the Miles Review or any changed guidelines. Things are complicated as the government is preparing the 2015 budget and the science priorities are getting sorted out” said Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association.

“My advice is that bidders should be ready. The funding round immediately after a review is often squeezed for time. That’s what happened after the Howard Review and the O’Kane Review and looks likely to be the case for the Miles Review. My best guess is that the Minister will want to see changes to the guidelines and that industry leadership is likely to be further emphasised”.

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NCRISIS illustrates the need for Strategy‏

Commentary from Dr Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association

Christopher Pyne’s backdown on linking the funding of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme to the university reform legislation has caused a major sigh of relief in the research sector. But the relief is currently only for 12 months and should never have occurred in the first place.

NCRIS is a great scheme. Australia is too small a place for every State or every research organisation to have the latest and greatest bit of “kit”. Before NCRIS, that was the way we tended to fund things. The then Major National Research Facilities program was much more competitive and cut-throat. There were some good examples of sharing facilities but not many. NCRIS changed things. Introduced by the Howard Government, the scheme allowed for staffing to run the infrastructure as well as the building and machines themselves. More importantly, NCRIS facilities were developed following extensive consultations in their sector with business plans and governance put in place to maximise their use and impact.

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Still the “Clever Country”?

Yesterday morning in Canberra, the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC launched a report from Professionals Australia called “Still the Clever Country?”

Professional Australia has surveyed its members and found that their top concerns about science are the need for government funding and the need for a more strategic and sustainable approach.

Professor Chubb noted significant progress towards a more strategic approach to Australia’s science. He indicated that the Commonwealth Science Council met in late 2014 and had now tasked him and his office to come back to the Council turning the current ideas and proposals into actions.

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Big step forward in Industry Growth Centres

Industry and Science Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has named the Chairs of three of the five proposed Industry Growth Centres and said he expects the Centres to be up and running by the middle of the year. Minister Macfarlane also named the members of the independent Advisory Committee for the government’s $188.5 million Growth Centres initiative. The Chairs of the Growth Centres are:

Mr Andrew Stevens, chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre;
Ms Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, chair of the Mining Equipment, Technology and Sevices Growth Centre and
Mr Peter Schutz, chair of the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre.

The remaining two appointments (for the Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Growth Centre and the Oil, Gas and Energy Growth Centre) will be named shortly. The Advisory Committee for the Growth Centres Initiative is Mr John Grill AO (Chair), Ms Catherine Livingstone AO, Dr Andrew Liveris AO and Ms Carolyn Hewson AO. Mr Macfarlane’s announcement can be found here.

Several weeks ago, Minister Macfarlane assured Australian research into carbon capture and storage (CCS) to 2020 with the announcement that the Australian Government would provide $25 million over five years to the CO2CRC Otway Project and related activities. Welcoming the funding announcement, CO2CRC’s new chief executive officer, Tania Constable, commended the Australian Government for supporting CCS as an essential component in a portfolio of low- and zero-carbon emissions technologies required to tackle climate change.

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Dr Tony Peacock and Alex Sloan talk to Dr Rodger Campbell and Professor Richard Hillis on 666 ABC.

 Flying start for CRCs in 2015

The CRC for Deep Exploration Technologies yesterday announced a major commercialisation outcome, AutoSonde, with industry partner Boart Longyear, leading global supplier of drilling services, equipment and performance tooling.

The AutoSonde technology enables the collection or geophysical data while a hole is being drilled instead of the current method of having a specialist crew carry out the process once the drill rig has left, which adds significant time, cost and risk to the process.

AusScan, a NIRS (near infrared reflectance spectroscopy) technology developed by the Pork CRC for  rapidly determining the effective energy value for grains (wheat, barley, triticale and sorghum –working on corn) plus many other nutrients including amino acid levels, is now being globalised through a recent partnership with Aunir.

This technology will allow growers to maximise the efficiency with which grains are utilised and provides for more consistent animal performance.

Catapult Group International Ltd (Catapult Sports) commercialised research from the CRC for MicroTechnology and is now used by over 350 sports teams around the world to track and monitor their athletes. The Asia Cup winning Socceroos use the technology. In December the company had a successful Initial Public Offering with a market capitalisation of $66 million.

Late last year the Cell Therapy Manufacturing CRC inked a key intellectual property deal with industry partner Terumo BCT. Through the deal Terumo has supplied a new bioreactor which will allow growing cells on a larger scale and test processes working on cell growth.

If this is any indication how the rest of the year will play out, CRCs are in for another fantastic year.

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Science Meets Policymakers

Science & Technology Australia, in partnership Asia and the Pacific Policy Society at Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, invites registrations for a one-day conference to enable policymakers and scientists to achieve better public policy outcomes.

Science meets Policymakers will bring together researchers from a range of disciplines and policymakers from various government departments to examine the intersection between the evidence base and policy development.

Note: Registration for Science meets Policymakers (not to be confused with Science meets Parliament in late March 2015) is open to all and there are no restrictions on the number of registrations from individual organisations.

Participants in the event will include policymakers, parliamentarians, academics, practising scientists, and representatives from scientific societies and industries employing scientists.

Confirmed speakers and session chairs include:

·      Dr Michael Keating AC, FASSA, FIPAA
·      Professor Brian Schmidt AC
·      Professor Veronica Taylor
·      Professor Ian Chubb AC
·      Professor Gabriele Bammer
·      Professor Hugh White AO
·      Professor Tom Kompas
·      Professor Emily Banks
·      Professor Bruce Chapman
·      Professor Aidan Byrne
·      Rona Mellor PSM
·      Anne-Marie Lansdown

Click here to register.